White-Cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis)



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The white-cheeked pintail (Anas bahamensis), also called the Bahama pintail or summer duck is a dabbling duck commonly found in the Caribbean and South America. Its white cheeks and wing band recognize it on a dark brown body.

This duck is related to the northern pintail and has three subspecies — lesser Bahama pintail (A. b. bahamensis), greater Bahama pintail (A. b. rubirostris) and Galapagos pintail (A. b. galapagensis).

Carl Linneaus first described the species in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae. It is a member of the Anatidae family, including geese, ducks and swans.

Genus: Anas

Scientific Name: Anas bahamensis

Height: 20in (51cm)

Wingspan: 60 – 68 cm.

Weight: 503 – 569 g

White-Cheeked Pintail Description

The white-cheeked pintail is a unique and attractive waterfowl species. Its upper parts are brown with black feathers bordered by pale buff on the back.

The tail is pointed and yellowish, while the wing coverts are brown. The great coverts have a yellowish tip. The tertials have a blackish hue but also have pale brown edges.

The secondary bases on the wings have a metallic green band and a black subterminal band with a broad yellowish edge at the tip.

The white-cheeked pintail has warm brown underparts with small black spots on the chest and belly. The undertail coverts are yellowish, and the underwing is dark except for a pale central band.

The flight feathers and trailing edge are blackish. The crown and nape are brown with dark spots, and the sides of the head, throat and upper neck are white.

The bill is blue-grey with red sides, and the eyes are brown. The legs and webbed feet are dark gray.

The male and female white-cheeked pintails are similar, but the female has a duller bill and face, a shorter tail and is smaller than the male.

Listen to White-Cheeked Pintail

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White-Cheeked Pintail Habitat & Range

The white-cheeked pintail is a migratory waterfowl species with a wide population range. It is primarily found in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Brazil and other parts of South America and the Galapagos Islands. They are rarely seen in other parts of the world.

However, small flocks of these birds from these locations have been observed migrating in the winter to the southern areas of Texas and Florida during certain times of the year. This species has also been spotted in Mexico and Central American countries such as the northern coast of C0lombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

The white-cheeked pintail is a waterfowl species that have adapted to various wet environments, from salt water to freshwater habitats. Seen most often in brackish and saline waters, these ducks prefer shallow bodies of water such as brackish lakes, lagoons, estuaries, and mangrove swamps.

In addition to this type of habitat, these wildfowl can also be found in open wetlands with shallow freshwater ponds and lakes.

In Europe, the birds found in semi-wild environments are more likely escapees that escaped from captivity.

White-Cheeked Pintail Diet & Food Habits

The White-cheeked Pintail is a highly adaptive feeder that can easily adjust its diet according to the resources available in its habitat.

When feeding, they use “upending” to reach deeper food in the water, turning upside down and diving into the water. This feeding method is common among ducks, but the White-cheeked Pintail is particularly well-adapted due to its bill shape and flexible neck.

The white-cheeked pintail’s diet mostly consists of aquatic invertebrates, such as insect larvae, small crustaceans, and mollusks. They also eat seeds from aquatic plants like pondweeds, sedges, and algae.

As omnivores, they are also known to forage for terrestrial invertebrates like worms and beetles when available near their habitats.

White-Cheeked Pintail Nesting & Mating Habits

The white-cheeked pintail is a beautiful marsh duck that nests near bodies of water such as lakes, marshes, and rivers. Its nest is usually built on the ground, in dense vegetation.

Pairs usually form post-breeding molt, but other white-cheeked pintails get together a few months before their breeding season starts. The breeding season of these ducks varies from their range.

The female will lay between 6 and 10 creamy-white eggs, which she incubates for around 25 to 26 days. During the incubation period, the male may leave the female to join other males or stand nearby to keep watch on potential predators.

Within 24 hours from hatching, the mother duck leads her young to the water. Ducklings can feed themselves, but their mothers continue to care for them until they are fully grown at 6 to 8 weeks old.

This duck has a lifespan of 15 to 18 years.

White-Cheeked Pintail Population & Conservation Status

The white-cheeked pintail is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, indicating that its population is stable and not at risk of extinction.

This species’ conservation success is likely due to its wide geographic range, which allows it to withstand localized impacts such as deforestation or extreme weather. Its relatively high population size also helps to protect it from becoming endangered.

Key Points

  • White-cheeked pintails are native to the Caribbean, parts of South America and the Galapagos Islands.
  • As omnivores, these ducks’ diet consists of plant and animal matter.
  • Both sexes look similar but the females are slightly smaller than the males.
  • These birds are often seen swimming and foraging on the surface of the water.

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